Matt Nagy takes a familiar strategy after the Bears’ loss to the Dolphins
LAKE FOREST – Even though he’s been the coach for the Bears for just six regular season weeks, Matt Nagy has been here before.
Back on September 9th, in his first game as coach of the team, the Packers erased a 20-0 deficit in the second half to win by one. He faced criticism, a rush of negativity, and general bad feelings even if it was the first game of a new era.
Nagy handled it back then, preaching positivity instead of negativity, and it led to three-straight victories by the Bears.
On Monday, the coach was back in the same scenario at Halas Hall, explaining what went wrong in a disappointing 31-28 loss to the Dolphins. They faced a backup quarterback yet couldn’t generate any pass rush. They had a chance to get closer to a game-winning field goal in overtime, but chose to play it safe, giving Cody Parkey a shot at a 53-yard game-winner.
That kick went right, then things went wrong, and it was Miami that booted a game-winning field goal, and brought the Bears’ recent momentum to a halt.
Yet like in Week 1, Nagy came to his news conference on Monday, keeping a rather positive attitude despite a difficult defeat. The “Debbie Downer” line didn’t come out this time, but the coach preached the fact that negativity would stay out of the locker room this week.
“We’re frustrated with the loss. That was a tough environment in regards to game atmosphere, but the guys stuck together, and they fought till the end,” said Nagy. “Everything that I talked about. We had chances to win the game, and when you have that, you need to try and figure out how to eliminate that when you get into these situations again, you can learn from them. That’s with all of us.
“Our guys are in good spirits right now, and I think that’s a really good thing.”
Of course, the coach is despite the fact he’s received a fair amount of second-guessing for his overtime strategy. After gaining 34 yards on two Jordan Howard carries, the Bears didn’t pass once inside Dolphins’ territory. They used Howard only on third down and chose to play it safe, giving Parkey the shot at the 53-yarder.
It missed, and the questions began, yet Nagy continued to defend the decision and seem unfazed by those who say he was wrong.”
“I’m a big boy and I can handle criticism. I have no issue at all with the criticism,” said Nagy. “That’s where people are. That’s their own opinion. But I felt good with it, it’s what we did, and, shoot, we’re all in this thing together and I trust our guys.”
Just like the Packers’ loss, he expects his group to have the same positive attitude as a big week approaches. The defending AFC champion Patriots come to Soldier Field on Sunday for the first time in eight years, fresh off a win over the undefeated Chiefs on Sunday night. The Bears won on Monday night after the terrible finish against the Packers, and Nagy expects the same mindset with his team this week.
“I expect our guys to handle it great. The one thing that you realize that Ryan (Pace) has done such a great job at is bringing in quality human beings, good people,” said Nagy of his team. “So I’ve said it from the start, when you go through tough losses, right, bad teams start pointing the finger, losing teams start pointing the finger.
“We don’t have any of that, because we have good people. So we have good people, good players, good coaches, we try our best. Now I’m not making any promises, but I will say this: I have no concern at all that our team is going to gel and get even stronger, and down the road, again, with the Packers, and now this game, we use it the right way.”
Nagy’s seen them do so once before. Hence the faith in his group after a second painful loss in 2018.